The Cubs finally scored more than one run at a time. Two, in fact, on a David Bote home run. Later, three runs crossed the plate on a Javier Baez home run. And, runs even scored on hits other than home runs!
The Cubs scored three more runs Wednesday night than they had scored in the five previous games combined and blasted the Tigers 8-2, splitting their series and road trip.
But first, they had to come from behind. Again. A single, walk and another single gave the Tigers a 1-0 lead in the second inning off Jon Lester. “Here we go again,” was the thought that had to be running through your head. (It was. Admit it.)
Meanwhile, Francisco Liriano was mowing down Cubs hitters, looking like the 2013-15 version of himself who used to stymie the Cubs while he was with the Pirates.
That lasted until the fifth. Albert Almora Jr. led off with a single and that brought up Bote [VIDEO].
Bote got a hanging slider and yanked it over the wall in left-center. It didn’t go very high or very far, but there it was, the Cubs’ first multi-run home run since Anthony Rizzo hit a two-run shot against the Brewers August 15. It was their first multi-run inning since the fourth inning of that same game. And it was their first multi-run game since... that same game a week ago.
That must have felt like the all-time monkey on the back was lifted, because then the Cubs scored another run in the inning... not on a home run! Willson Contreras walked. Ian Happ singled, and Contreras rather foolishly tried to take third and was thrown out. Aggressive baserunning is preached by the coaching staff, but there’s a difference between “aggressive” and “TOOTBLAN,” and this was the latter. Happ did take second on the play at third, where he scored on a single by Daniel Murphy to make it 3-1, Murphy’s first Cubs RBI.
With two out in the sixth, Contreras hit an infield chopper with Ben Zobrist on third [VIDEO] to make it 4-1.
As you’ll notice in the video, Contreras had fouled off a pitch previously in that at-bat and then hit himself in the helmet with his bat in apparent frustration. This is a really bad idea, Willson! You might recall that former Orioles infielder Brian Roberts did this and gave himself a concussion that pretty much ruined the second half of his career.
The Tigers put together a rally in the eighth that was helped along by a rare error by Anthony Rizzo. But it was also a rare bad outing from Carl Edwards Jr., who allowed a hit and a walk and eventually had to leave for Pedro Strop. This wasn’t good:
Carl Edwards, Jr. induced 0 swings and misses in 13 pitches that appearance. His swing and miss has been completely absent of late w/ just 6 in last 6 appearances (83 pitches for a 7.2% swstr%). Only 2 strikeouts out of 21 batters faced in those outings. A jarring drop for him.— Sahadev Sharma (@sahadevsharma) August 23, 2018
Strop got the second out of the inning, but then walked Jim Adduci with the bases loaded to make it 4-2. Strop might have wound up finishing the game, but the Cubs put together a four-run rally in the ninth inning, the biggest blow a three-run homer [VIDEO] by Javier Baez.
As you can see, Javy did that after fouling a ball off his leg. Baez plays full speed in every aspect of his game, and frequently he finds himself banged up. He’ll have to watch that going forward, I think, as the Cubs need his production and don’t need to have him make a trip to the DL.
The next batter was Rizzo, and he completed the scoring with a home run of his own [VIDEO].
That was Rizzo’s 20th, making this the sixth straight year he’s hit 20 or more home runs, the first time any Cub has done that since Alfonso Soriano (2007-12). Also:
20-HR seasons by #Cubs lefties— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) August 23, 2018
13 Billy Williams
6 Anthony Rizzo (hit #20 tonight)
6 Bill Nicholson
5 Leon Durham
The long inning gave Joe Maddon a chance to get Brandon Kintzler up, and it was good to see him have an easy 1-2-3 inning to end the game.
Jon Lester threw well, despite having to be lifted before the sixth inning ended. That resulted in these fun facts:
Most starts of at least 5 innings and 1 or 0 runs allowed— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) August 23, 2018
41 Jon Lester (including today)
37 Chris Sale
36 Justin Verlander
36 Max Scherzer
34 Corey Kluber
34 Jacob deGrom
33 Clayton Kershaw
#Cubs pitching last 6 games:— Christopher Kamka (@ckamka) August 23, 2018
1.34 ERA, 53.2 IP, 48 Hits, 16 BB, 37 K, 1.193 WHIP
Keep up the latter numbers and this team is going to win a lot of games.
Hopefully, this game will be the beginning of the Cubs getting out of their offensive slump of the last few weeks.
All three contenders in the N.L. Central won Wednesday, leaving the standings intact: The Cubs lead the Cardinals by 2½ games and the Brewers by three, and are four games ahead of St. Louis and five in front of Milwaukee in the loss column.
The Cubs come home to begin a seven-game homestand at Wrigley Field Thursday evening. First in are the Reds, who the Cubs took two of three from at Wrigley in July. Cole Hamels will lead off the homestand on the mound for the Cubs and he’ll face Reds righthander Anthony DeSclafani. Game time is 7:05 p.m. CT and TV coverage will be on NBC Sports Chicago.